Menu Calorie Counts: ‘Personal Responsibility’ or Public Health Measure?

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Big food companies have long pushed for personal responsibility among consumers—the idea that, given the right information, most people can regulate their own diet and make good choices.

Take McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson. According to him, the mega-corporation hopes to, “use our size and scale around the world to help educate, empower, and encourage our customers to make informed choices so they can live a balanced, healthy lifestyle.” Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Association’s new public awareness campaign and accompanying Mixify website is another good example. They’re aimed at educating the soda-drinking audience with a “calories in, calories out” message to prevent obesity. Read More

McDonald’s and In-School Marketing: The Clown Speaks From Both Sides of His Mouth

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The McDonald’s corporation has lately fallen on hard times, enduring seven straight months of declining domestic sales, a food safety scandal involving its Chinese meat supplier, politically motivated restaurant closures in Russia, even a Consumer Reports survey ranking its burgers as the “worst in America.” So on a December 10th conference call, McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson and U.S. President Mike Andres sought to reassure skittish McDonald’s investors by outlining a seven-point plan to turn around the troubled corporation.
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That Wine Isn’t Vegan and Other Reasons to Go Natural

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Learning that wine has ingredients like bull’s blood or crab shells is likely to trigger panic attacks in some dedicated vegans. It certainly did to Kate Jacoby. Jacoby is co-owner of Philadelphia’s Vedge restaurant with her chef husband, Rich Landau. “When I found out that a wine can be made and processed with animal and dairy products, I freaked out,” she said. Jacoby was writing a serious wine list, but she’d begun to wonder: Would she be limited to one or two wines? Read More

Dinner and Climate Change: Global Poll Shows Eaters Connecting the Dots

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In 2010, when I was on tour promoting my book Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It, I felt lonely. Not because no one was showing up for my book talks, they were. And not because I was alone; with my nine-month-old daughter in tow, I was never by myself. I felt lonely because, back then, there were very few of us talking about the connections between food and climate change, despite the fact that the global food system—from field to plate to landfill—is responsible for as much as one third of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

In just a few years that has changed. Somewhat. Read More

Oregon’s GMO Labeling Initiative Didn’t Pass. Here’s Why We’re Still Winning.

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Yesterday, five weeks after the November election, campaigners for Oregon’s Measure 92—one of the nation’s most closely watched efforts to require the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods—officially conceded defeat.

Last month, the measure trailed by less than 2,000 votes, triggering an automatic recount. The recount revealed that the measure had been defeated by a mere 837 votes, making it among the closest statewide elections in Oregon’s history. Though the measure failed, along with similar efforts in California, Colorado, and Washington over the past two years, the narrow margin in Oregon makes me more sure than ever that we will see mandatory labeling soon. Read More

Market Match: Making California’s Farmers’ Markets Accessible

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When Allison Miller lost her job as a server at a restaurant that closed last summer, she wasn’t sure how she would make ends meet while living in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the country.

Surviving on unemployment benefits, she was able to qualify for CalFresh, funded through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), AKA food stamps. Although she had limited resources, she wanted to continue to buy her produce at the farmers’ market, where she had developed strong ties with local farmers. Read More